Claim: Actor Jackie Chan was scheduled to begin filming a movie at the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11 but changed his plans because the screenwriter failed to deliver the script for the planned scene on time.
Origins: In the tragic aftermath of any prominent disaster, tales of serendipity begin to spread: anecdotes relating how providence, luck, or quirks of fate — spontaneous departures from normal routines,
unusually late starts, unavoidable delays, inexplicable feelings of anxiety — led survivors to make
last-minute alterations in their schedules, alterations that prevented them from being where they otherwise would have been, at ground zero of the disaster.
Many of these types of tales are quite true, of course. But many, many more are embellished, exaggerated, or completely fabricated. Nearly 1,500 people perished when the Titanic sank on her maiden voyage in 1912, but afterwards several thousand more claimed they would have been on board had some unexpected events not induced them to change their plans. Sharon Tate planned for a quiet evening at her Beverly Hills home on the night in August 1969 when the Manson family struck, murdering her and four others, yet in the ensuing years dozens of celebrities would claim they had been asked over by Tate that day but had declined the invitations.
No doubt many New Yorkers (and others) have true tales of fortuitous circumstances that kept them away from the World Trade Center towers on the morning of September 11 — and many more will have similar stories in the years to come. Here is one such tale.
According to the Chinese press, Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan was slated to begin production on his film Nosebleed on September 11. The plot of the movie, which cast Jackie as a window washer at the World Trade Center who falls for a waitress (or bartender) working at the Windows of the World restaurant (atop the north tower), would have had him filming scenes at the WTC beginning at 7 A.M. — less than two hours before a hijacked airliner slammed into the north tower. But, according to the Singapore Straits Times, "because his scriptwriter failed to deliver the screenplay containing the World Trade Center scene," Chan opted to go to Toronto instead to begin work on another film, The Tuxedo.
The Straits Times reported Chan as saying:
"Filming was scheduled to have taken place at 7am last Tuesday morning, and as I had to be at the top of one of the towers for one of the scenes, I would probably have died if the shooting went ahead as planned!" he said.
Instead, he made a last-minute decision to move to Toronto after getting the script for another new movie, Tuxedo.
"Well, I guess my time is not up yet," the actor said, adding that he cried uncontrollably in his hotel room after watching the horrific attacks on television.
However, the narrowness of Jackie's escape (if indeed there was an escape at all) is subject to question.
The film Nosebleed was dropped by New Line Cinema and only picked up by MGM in May 2001 and was therefore unlikely to have gone into production as early as September 11. The Tuxedo did begin production in Toronto on September 10, the day before the terrorist attacks on America, but its schedule was arranged well in advance (at least as far back as July), not at the last minute. If Jackie ever was slated to begin shooting at the World Trade Center on September 11, it was almost certainly as part of a plan drawn up and abandoned long before September 2001.
In an eerie coincidence, however, the screenplay for Nosebleed had Chan's character battling terrorists bent on blowing up the Statue of Liberty (or, according to some news reports, the World Trade Center itself).